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FASS Newsletter

Word Stress and Intelligibility

 

On 27 November, Christine Lewis gave a FASS seminar entitled 'The Intelligibility of Non-standard Word Stress between Southeast Asian Speakers' in which she discussed the impact of unexpected stress on intelligibility in English conversations between speakers in Southeast Asia.

In some cases, stress shift is leftward, as with 'fifteen' in the following example by a speaker from Myanmar, which the listener heard as 'fifty':

 

However, at other times, stress shift was rightwards, as with 'circled' in the following example by a speaker from Cambodia, which the listener heard as 'called':

 

Overall, it was found that, if the tokens related to numbers (such as 'fifteen') are excluded from the data, rightward shift is more detrimental towards intelligbility than leftward shift.